Every year around this time I have a moment where I think about the thoughts that I have going into the new year. And this time around, all I can say is that my main thought is to not have any.
Though completely unrealistic, let me try to explain.
I don’t know about you, but at the start of every new year, regardless of whether I want to admit it or not, I fall back into the same pattern – reflect on the past year, think about the next. These thoughts rarely help with depression and anxiety. I can certainly make a list of all that I have to be thankful for when looking back at 2018. Truth is, this should be a daily exercise rather than some annual reminder that “I’m still alive and hey, it ain’t so bad.”
I could also easily make a list of what I have to look forward to in 2019. Every year I do exactly that – some sort of goals list that never really gets accomplished and only really makes me feel bad when I use it for the reflective part of the exercise that awaits me twelve months later. This is what I like to call my “anxiety loop of despair” which is a pretty catchy name if I do say so myself.
I am not saying that reflection is bad. I’m not saying that goal setting is futile. I have no idea how to manage my own “journey” let alone begin to pretend to give advice for anyone else. What I do know – with a little, ok a lot, of help from reading, meditation, and therapy, is that thinking is not all it’s cracked up to be.
If I could simply reflect back on 2018 and say “hey, not so bad – you still had people that loved you, experiences that you could learn from, good or bad, and a bit of fun along the way”, I think that would be enough. If I could look toward 2019 and simply say “my goal is to keep on moving – I am literally just going to do my best – physically, spiritually and emotionally – then the personal and professional will fall where it is meant to, regardless of my “hopes and dreams”, then that would be great.
The problem is that this doesn’t happen. Not for me at least. Those thoughts are accompanied by a caravan (is that still an ok word to use?) of other thought passengers that insist on a ride along. Thoughts like “you’re getting too old to (fill in the blank)” and “what did you really accomplish last year” and “I think I’m being left behind in (another fill in the blank option for all those playing at home.)
This is why my thoughts for heading into the New Year are simple – to not have any, or rather, treat them as someone else’s thoughts.
Are we are thoughts? I don’t know – the verdict is out. What I have come to believe is that we are when we don’t see them for what they are clearly. Some people like to explain that the power of positive thinking can lead to amazing results. I agree that positive thinking has its place. However, this negates the fact that no one is just one type of thinker. Sure, your set point may be way more optimistic than mine – in fact, I almost guarantee it. That doesn’t necessarily make you immune to difficult thoughts and feelings.
So, again, my verdict is that you are your thoughts only to the extent you allow them to be. I have a lot of work to do here and my fear is that I’ll never be a black belt. I’d settle for orange at this point.
Our lives are not a series of Facebook posts and they are not a series of thoughts – unless we choose for them to be. So, if you’re with me, I wish for you a relatively thoughtless 2019 and then we can really see how far we’ve come when we look back in 2020 – if we want to that is.
Until next time,